Quite possibly the most common question I get is whether or not someone should take vitamins and supplements, whether it is protein, a specific vitamin, or a multivitamin. Most of my clients ask me this at some point during our first few sessions together.
I ask them how their diet is and if they’ve had any bloodwork done lately. They look at me confused but still answer the question. The reason why I ask this is that it is my philosophy that as long as you have a balanced diet and no deficiencies (which would be discovered in a blood test) then you really don’t NEED to take supplements to lose weight or be healthy.
Vitamin and supplement companies will tell you that you NEED them, even if you really don’t.
Why? Because they are just trying to make some money! Have you ever walked into a GNC and the sales dude was using all these big and fancy words so you automatically assume that he’s clearly an expert and you should trust him? That’s just a tactic that they use to make you feel that way. They gain your trust so they can convince you that you NEED to buy the fish oil and the multivitamin with caffeine in it to boost your metabolism. Oh, and don’t forget the post-workout protein shake with fat burners so you can look even more ripped. Jeez, did we forget the crushed up great white shark tooth so you can make sure your eyes are sparkly? Let’s add that into your stash right meow.
None of that is necessary.
Vitamins and supplements are not regulated by the FDA.
What this means is that, unless you are a scientist who has a lab, equipment, and knowledge, you have no way of knowing if you truly are consuming what the bottle label says you are. Your Vitamin C could literally be sugar pills and you wouldn’t know. The thought of this is truly frightening. You think you know what you’re putting into your body but you might not!
Certain vitamins and minerals can have negative side effects or interact with prescription medication.
For example, Vitamin K can reduce the effectiveness of blood thinners. St. John’s Wort can decrease the effectiveness of hormonal birth control. It is important to speak with your doctor before taking any type of supplement, especially if you are on prescription medication, and do your research!
Some people do have nutrient deficiencies.
These cannot be diagnosed by the gal at the Vitamin Shoppe. You would need to go to a medical professional and they’ll typically do a blood test, especially if you are experiencing symptoms that are caused by a certain nutrient deficiency. One of the most common ones is anemia, which is low iron counts. Now, this would be the time to take an iron supplement if your doctor recommends that you do so.
To protein or not to protein?
That is the question. I tell everyone that it depends on YOU. Do you get enough protein in your diet? I recommend taking a look at what you eat in a day and analyzing that. If you don’t get enough protein, then it might be a good idea to either make the extra effort to eat more protein or start drinking a protein shake. However, just the same as all the other vitamins and supplements, it is not completely necessary in order to be healthy or lose weight.
“Kayla, do you use supplements?”
I am upfront and honest when people ask me this. Yes, I typically use protein powder and I also drink an amino acid drink after I’ve worked out. I often put protein in my breakfast smoothie to make sure I am starting my day off with a balanced meal. If I didn’t do this, my breakfast would lack sufficient protein. I use the amino acid drink because amino acids help with muscle repair, which helps with DOMS.
In the end, you truly don’t need supplements to be healthy or lose weight. Don’t waste your money on all of these things you don’t need when you could be getting them from your diet! Above all, just use your own discretion and really think about whether or not you need it.
I wear a lot of hats: NASM Certified Personal Trainer, Weight Loss Specialist, and Fitness Nutrition Specialist. A writer with a B.A. in English and Professional Writing. A fur mom and a wife. A mental health advocate and a septic shock survivor. An Airman and an athlete. I live in South Florida and am in love with the ocean. People can typically find me either in the gym or at home, writing or reading.